KFAD were the call letters assigned to a new broadcast
station at Phoenix, Arizona in June of 1922 by the Radio Division of the
Department of Commerce's Bureau of Navigation to the McArthur Brothers
Mercantile Company. Charles and Warren McArthur were the owners of the
retail establishment, which was located at 134 South Central Avenue, site
of the new station. KFAD was authorized to operate with 100 watts on
"the broadcasting wave of 360 meters" (equal to 833 kilocycles)
and first went on the air Wednesday, June 21, 1922 as Phoenix's first
By January 1924 , KFAD was in operation daily from 7:30
p.m. to 3:30 p.m. In early 1925, the "Class C" 100 watt station
was assigned to operate on 1100 kilocycles by the Radio Division.
In late 1925, KFAD's license was transferred to the
Electrical Equipment Company of Phoenix. This new firm was owned by the
McArthur Brothers Mercantile Company. KFAD's studio and transmitting
location was changed to 312 North Central Avenue, and power was
concurrently increased to 500 watts in early 1927. By late 1927, KFAD's
slogan, used on the air and off, was "The Gold Spot of America."
Again, KFAD's dial position was altered--shifting to 330 kilocycles in
early 1928. At 3 a.m. Saturday, November 11, 1928, the effective date of a
major frequency reallocations ordered by the newly empowered Federal Radio
Commission, KFAD was assigned to broadcast on 620 kilocycles.
A new studio was outfitted in early 1929, adjacent to
its transmitting location at 316 North Central Avenue, in the same
building as before. By the fall of 1929, the station's air motto was
"Phoenix, where Winter Never Comes." In November 1929, KFAD was
transferred to The Arizona Publishing Company, publisher of The Arizona
Republic daily newspaper. Minority interest in the 500 watt station was
retained by the Electrical Equipment Company of Phoenix. W.W. Knorpp was
assigned by the newspaper as Station Manager of KFAD, which, in late
November 1929 was assigned new call letters: KREP (for
"Republic"). KREP was first used by the station in early
December. A second thought about call letters for the station brought on
the request for a new call, because KREP was being mispronounced. On
December 26, 1929, the FCC authorized KREP to change call letters to KTAR
("The Arizona Republic"). This change was effective February 23,
1930. Also in early 1930, daytime power of the station was increased to
1,000 watts. Night power remained at the 500 watt level. Studios continued
to be located at 316 North Central, while its transmitter and masts were
located at 314 North Central.
KTAR affiliated with the National Broadcasting Company
"chain" on June 8, 1930, becoming Arizona's first affiliate of
that nationwide network. In late June 1930, a new corporation was formed
by "The Arizona Republic" newspaper and the Electrical Equipment
Company to operate their station--The KTAR Broadcasting Company.
The station was relocated to better quarters in the
winter of 1930. By January 1931, KTAR was moved to atop the Heard
Building, 116 North Central Avenue. Two Pacific Iron & Steel towers,
each 180 feet high, were installed atop the seven-story building to
support the KTAR antenna system. The roof was 100 feet above Central
Avenue, the main thoroughfare of Phoenix. Richard 0. Lewis became General
Manager by 1932; Lewis had been Transferred from "The Republic"
staff to the station's staff in 1929.
By 1935, KTAR was granted an SA (Special Authorization)
by the Federal Communications Commission to utilize 1,000 watts for its
nighttime broadcasts; however, it remained licensed for 500 watts of power
at night. On February 26, 1935, the station was granted a construction
permit to increase night power permanently to 1,000 watts. KTAR became a
fulltime 1 KW facility shortly thereafter.
By 1937, Sam Kahan was President of The KTAR
Broadcasting Company. Continuing as General Manager of the NBC
Supplemental" (both Red and Blue chains) affiliate was Richard 0.
Lewis. At this time, KTAR, "The Pioneer Station of the Inland
Southwest," was in operation 16 3/4 hours a day. By 1938, KTAR was in
daily operation from 6:30 a.m to 11:15 p.m. Ownership of KTAR's
licensee continued to be the publishers of the morning "Arizona
Republic" and the evening "Phoenix Gazette" and the
Electrical Engineering Company interests.
The Arizona Broadcasting System, a new statewide
network, was inaugurated in July 1939 by the KTAR interests , serving
several other Arizona broadcast stations with programming from KTAR , the
network's key station, and from the NBC Red Chain. KTAR' s studio
facilities, including two broadcasting studios (one seating 90 people)
were utilized by ABS. Improved transmitting facilities were constructed in
1940 by KTAR, anticipating a move from atop the Heard Building. At 12:01
a.m. , New Years Day, January 1 , 1941 , KTAR debuted a new 4O-acre
transmitting site at the corner of 36th Street and East Thomas Road, and
increased power from 1,000 to 5,000 watts, utilizing a new Western
Electric 5 KW transmitter. A new modern one-story transmitter building was
constructed adjacent to two new Allison self-supported towers (one 400
feet tall; the other, for nighttime directional use, 300 feet in height) ,
making KTAR the first direction station in Arizona.
It was also the state's first 5 KW facility. The new
transmitter was remotely controlled from the newly remodeled KTAR studios
at 711 Heard Building in downtown Phoenix. On February 21, 1941, the new
transmitter and a plaque on the building at the East Thomas Road site were
KTAR, the Phoenix NBC affiliate, dropped Blue Network
programming in 1943, but continued with NBC-Red and the Arizona
Broadcasting System programming. KTAR (along with two other commonly-owned
Arizona broadcast stations) was sold in August 1944 by the Arizona
Publishing Company interests (Charles A. Stauffer, Board Chairman).
Acquiring KTAR, KVOA, Tucson, and KYUM, Yuma, for $375,000 was John J.
Louis, doing business as The KTAR Broadcasting Company. Mr. Louis, a Vice
President of a Chicago advertising agency, was a winter resident of
Phoenix. FCC approval of the sale occurred in July. After this sale, Mr.
Louis, now 77.3% owner, became President of KTAR's Licensee, while R.O.
Lewis, now a minority owner, was retained as General Manager. In 1946,
John J. Louis became Chairman of the Board of The KTAR Broadcasting
Company, and was succeeded as President by Dick Lewis; Mr. Lewis continued
to serve as Manager, as well.
The Arizona Broadcasting System (also sold in the 1944
transaction to the Louis interests) numbered seven affiliates in Arizona
(including key station KTAR) by 1947. They were KVOA, Tucson, KYUM, Yuma,
KGLU , Safford , KYCA, Prescott, KAWT, Douglas , and KWJB, Globe.
Programming of NBC was carried by the statewide network as well as
Studios were moved from 711 Heard Building to new
quarters in the "KTAR Building" at 1101 North Central Avenue in
the early fifties. Majority owner and Board Chairman J.J. Louis died at
age 63 on February 19, 1959. J.J. Louis Jr. of Chicago was named Board
Chairman of The KTAR Broadcasting Company by 1960.
By the early sixties, programming was described as
"middle-of-the-road" music with NBC and the regional Arizona
Broadcasting System programming predominating. By 1964, Station Manager of
KTAR was Ray C. Smucker, a corporate Vice President. In July 1967, Richard
0. Lewis was elevated to board Chairman, and concurrently Mr. Smucker
succeeded him as President and General Manager of KTAR. Mr. Lewis had
earlier been named Chainman of the Executive Committee.
A reorganization of the ownership of KTAR's
licensee,The KTAR Broadcasting Company, occurred in 1968. A merger between
the John J. Louis Jr. family interests, Waits & Company, and the Eller
Telecasting Company interests was affected in the summer of 1968 to form a
new firm, Combined Communications Corporation. The Eller Company, owned by
Karl Eller and associates, owned several broadcast properties in Yuma,
Arizona as well as extensive outdoor billboard advertising signs, which
were then merged through a stock corporation. Its licensee concurrently
became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Combined Communications Corporation.
The sale, gaining FCC approval on October l6th, was for an aggregate of
fifteen million dollars. Karl Eller was then named President of KTAR's
licensee, replacing Ray C. Smucker.
George Guyan was named Vice President and Station
Manager of KTAR in early January of 1969, becoming Vice President and
General Manager later in the same year. In August 1973, Ralph Beaudin was
appointed President and General Manager of the "MOR"-formatted
station. In the fall of 1973, KTAR's studios were remodeled and expanded
in space at 1101 North Central Avenue, which was formerly occupied by the
CCC corporate headquarters. The new space was to allow for KTAR's new
programming service, "Action News," begun in mid-September 1973,
which featured all news and information. KTAR also became a full time
twenty-four hour a day operation, affiliated with the American Information
Radio Network. KTAR's long-standing NBC affiliation was terminated in
1974. On October 1, 1975, the station affiliated with the Mutual
Broadcasting System. Its ABC Information affiliation was also retained. At
this time, John Bonnett was KTAR's Station Manager.
In the mid-seventies, the Arizona Broadcasting System
regional network was disbanded.
President and General Manager Ralph Beaudin resigned in
June of 1976. In late October 1976, John F. Bayliss was named President of
the Radio Division of owner Combined Communications Corporation, and
concurrently was elected an officer of the company. Ex-KTAR Board Chairman
Richard 0. "Dick" Lewis died at 71 on November 18, 1976.
Replacing Station manager John Bonnett in December 1976 was Richard K.
Penn, the named KTAR's new General Manager. Combined opened new corporate
offices in a new two story addition in what was once a parking lot
adjacent to the "KTAR Building" on North Central Avenue in
September, 1977. Stephen E. Glueck was named General Manager of the all
News Stations in 1978. President, John Bayliss, left the company in early
1979 to join a San Diego all news outlet.
The FCC approved a license transfer of KTAR and it's FM
sister station on February 28, 1979 from the Karl Eller controlled
Combined Communications Corporation to Phoenix Broadcasting, Inc., owned
by the Pulitzer Publishing Company in an asset and stock transfer totaling
$370 million. Combined concurrently acquired KSD St. Louis from Pulitzer
Publishing interests for KTAR and KBBC (FM) and cash. The new ownership
assumed control on June 7, I979. Stephen Glueck was retained as General
Manager under the new ownership. New studios were opened in mid- 1979 at
301 W. Osborn Road, Phoenix.
Today . . .
KTAR 620 NEWS/TALK/SPORTS . . . Arizona's oldest
continuously licensed broadcast station, operates 24 hours a day with an
all news and information format from studios at 301 W. Osborn Road,
Phoenix, Arizona. Operating at 620 kHz with 5,000 watts (nighttime
directional), KTAR is licensed to Phoenix Broadcasting, Inc., a subsidiary
of the Pulitzer Broadcasting Company (Michael E. Pulitzer, President and
Chief Executive Officer). James F. Taszarek is Vice President and General
Manager of the ABC Information Network affiliated station.
1989 was a banner year for KTAR as they were awarded
George M. Foster Peabody Award in May for the continuous coverage of the
impeachment of Evan Meacham.
KTAR also won the Scripps Howard Foundation "Jack
R. Howard" Award for excellence in local broadcast journalism, again
for the impeachment and Arizona Senate trial of Evan Meacham. The
Radio-Television News Directors Association, Inc. has just awarded KTAR
the 1989 RTNDA National Edward R. Murrow Award for Continuing Coverage in